Saying Farewell to Studying Abroad

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Andrew Masciarelli
December 18, 2023
A photo of a Roman street being imbued with beautiful holiday lights.

Was it all a fever dream? That question has echoed throughout the halls of my mind since returning. Having said my goodbyes, I was already struggling to grapple with the end of my study abroad experience in Rome. That said, returning home has left me with indescribable emotions. In the moment, it becomes easy to underestimate just how short of a time 3 months is, almost as though it passed in the blink of an eye; yet, as I lived that time abroad, it felt infinite. Being home, I’ve returned to the comfort of familiarity, but that is the opposite of everything you come to know in a world where you find true independence and learn about an entirely new culture. In some ways, it is so relieving to have some time to relax, but I know that as I rejuvenate, a longing to return to Rome will arise.

I think about the friends I’ve made; they were the hardest part of getting on my return flight to the United States. It is not clear when we will see one another again after Winter Break, which is a foreign feeling that differs from the college and high school experiences. Moreover, the friend groups I have established now must take a new form, perhaps staying in touch over social media rather than hanging out together in our apartments. While it may seem scary, I think there is beauty in knowing that it ever happened at all. To know that we all share some of the same memories that we’ve brought home is special to me.

I think one of the other elements that I will miss so much about Rome is the ability to slow down. Having built my schedule for next semester, I am anticipating to hit the ground running the second that my classes begin at Occidental in January. In our day to day lives, I think it is easy to get lost in the hustle, given an absence of separation between work and life. This is so ingrained in our lifestyle that I didn’t realize that others around the world didn’t go about their days like that. In Rome, it was not only acceptable but encouraged that we put away the laptops at the dinner table so that we could spend hours just being together without the worry of a deadline. In ways, this healed a part of my spirit. As someone who has not necessarily had the opportunity to stop and smell the roses in recent years, it was a challenge that rewarded me with new outlooks on my future.

With all of that said, I must echo the question I asked at the beginning of this post. In Rome, I entered a new world, much like the ones I always find myself in while I dream. It doesn’t feel entirely real that I have experienced so much in so little time, but it has made all the difference. While my foreseeable future does not contain any opportunities like those of studying abroad, I know that I can apply the lessons I’ve learned and cherish the connections I’ve made to live life to its fullest. Everyone always told me that studying abroad is one of the best decisions one can make, and now I understand why. Thanks for following along with me this semester! 

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Andrew Masciarelli

Hey there! My name is Andrew Masciarelli, and I am a rising junior from Occidental College studying economics and politics. Outside of my studies, I love to cook, and I am also spending as much time as I can teaching myself how to play the guitar!

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